When getting feedback on software, I think it's important to consider that there are at least two common positions that the person might be coming from:

1- They really just want to do X but can't figure out how to do X. They don't care too much how X is accomplished - as long as X is possible and they learn how to do it.

2- They know or can guess how to accomplish X, but they don't like the process and wish it was easier/better/faster to do X.

The trick is telling them apart.


My gut is that most of the time, people respond assuming #1 which blinds us to opportunities to improve things if we had just instead assumed #2.

This is on my mind because over the weekend I poked around with some game dev stuff and ran into the usual annoyances I encounter whenever I play around in that space. Things often seem too tedious or too hard or too obtuse or too unfinished.

So I wrote a bunch of initial impressions down as I hit them and decided to post them to the project's forum in the interest of improving things (coming from #2).

The response was mostly how to work around these problems (assuming I was coming from #1).

It makes me a bit sad because those first impressions and first-time user difficulties can't really ever be replicated by the same person again. This is a unique chance to see things in a new light and fix pain points.

Feedback like this is rare because no one thinks to do it or collect it in one place as it happens. Unfortunately since it's rare, it seems like an outlier and therefore not important to act on.

@bigzaphod You and I seem to obsess over some of the same things. :)

@bigzaphod i do this kind of note taking and feedback also and can relate. Maybe we need to figure out a better way to introduce our feedback?

I hate to start with "30+ software engineer & UX designer with some feedback on ways this could be improved." Because it feels arrogant and should, ideally, be irrelevant.

@bigzaphod But maybe something like, "I'm sure there are work-arounds, but I'm not asking to hear those. Instead I'm hoping that pointing out that the fact that they are "work-arounds" means there's a problem and thus an opportunity to improve things. And provide some suggestions on how that might be done."

@GeekAndDad It's tricky because then it might make it seem like you're not *actually* interested in doing X, but instead just wanting to complain about X maybe? It's tricky.

@bigzaphod sure is. Often I just skip it these days (sigh) unless it's an indie product and not open source; they're the only ones who seem to value the input.

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